Lord Caliban, the Leanan King, the Unholy King – the Unseelie.
“The doors of his castle opened before him of their own accord. In the Unseelie Kingdom, every soul recognized his, as an animal sensing an oncoming earthquake or the rumble of a mighty storm. Ears perked and stone listened, and doors opened to make way. The sound of boots on stone echoed in the vast emptiness of the palace vast, sending shockwaves of preparation through the realm’s inhabitants. There was silence there, in those waiting eyes and those rapid beating hearts. But there was music as well. If it had been audible to a mortal, it would have sounded foreboding, beautiful but deadly. It was the haunting melody that welcomed a haunted sovereign to his solitary world and its dark and lonesome throne.”
For thousands of years, two realms of unspeakable magic and mystery have existed in peace side by side. One is a land of light and possibility. The other is drawn in the stark lines of wickedness and seeped in the unbearable beauty that comes with it. The first is ruled by the Seelie King. The other is ruled by Caliban.
The Unseelie King is the sixth book in Heather Killough-Walden’s acclaimed paranormal romance series, The Kings. Within its pages, a dark lord finds hope in a beautiful, powerful soul, its tempting and forbidden magic, and a fierce and willful love that he will have to fight as never before to claim as his own.
I have to say that I feel sorry for all of Killough-Walden’s fans who read The Seelie King and then had to wait eight months for the release of The Unseelie King because I could barely wait the five minutes it took my Kindle to download and open the book. Okay that’s an exaggeration … it probably took a minute and that was too long of a wait. While it’s true that I have wanted the next book in the series each time I finished reading an installment, the fact that books five and six are so closely entwined made the need to go from one book to the next even stronger. And in true storyteller fashion, the author kept me on edge and at rapt attention the first page to the last.
The Unseelie King picks up where The Seelie King left off, with the discovery of the death of Selene and Minerva’s parents, but this time we’re seeing firsthand Minerva’s reaction and when her grief turns to rage, you come to understand why the old fae kings feared the power of the wishers so much. Unlike her sister, Minerva taps in to her innate fae knowledge almost immediately upon her transformation and sets out to make the world pay for its injustices. Fortunately Caliban understands his queen’s darkness better than his brother understood his bride’s and he’s ready to do what it takes to keep her from regretting her actions, even if it means he’ll never be able to claim his queen. And I must admit, even knowing that the queens are fated for their kings, I was right there with Caliban in doubting that their pairing would come to pass. Surprisingly, it was something as simple as food that breaks Minerva’s resolve and I for one want to know what the heck rainbow crepe cake is and where I can get some. But it is witnessing the potential of her power that shatters Minerva’s final wall and Caliban begins to make inroads in the claiming of his queen. And oh what a claiming it was!
I appreciated the author’s symmetry between The Seelie King and The Unseelie King. While all of the queens have been targeted once their identities were discovered, in both Selene and Minerva’s cases the threat against them came from within the fae realm and we finally learned who it was and why. And I just have to say … creepy! I really liked the author’s take on the myth of the unicorns. It’s not the first time that I’ve seen unicorns presented as the less than idyllic magical and gentle creatures we like to see them as, but it is a rarity and I found the reason behind it to be quite fascinating as was Minerva’s wish. Lalura’s discovery that there is another traitor among the kings’ ranks was disheartening to say the least, especially if it is as they suspect, motivated by jealousy. But it does keep the suspense level high in the series, especially in light of Imani’s divination. We also learned a bit more about the realms of the various kings and that the ever elusive Shadow King will soon be revealed as his bride is the next to be found. But the best part – aside from Caliban and Minerva – was learning Lalura’s secret and I was both surprised by it, yet not. As always, I’m ready for the next installment now!